Isaiah Cooper

Isaiah Cooper (Photo illustration by Elena Scotti; Image courtesy of Isaiah Cooper)
Isaiah Cooper (Photo illustration by Elena Scotti; Image courtesy of Isaiah Cooper)

Isaiah Cooper is already aiming to fly to higher heights. In 2016, at 16 years old, he made headlines when he became one of the youngest black pilots to fly around the United States. The next mission? To make the Guinness World Records and become the youngest person to take a solo flight around the globe.


And he has less than two years to do it.

“I’m looking to be the youngest to fly around the world at the age of 18,” Isaiah said in 2016.

CATEGORY: Science and Tech
AGE: 17
HOMETOWN: Compton, Calif.
EDUCATION: Thurgood Marshall Independent Study School

Isaiah has been flying for the last decade, learning at an after-school program at Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum in Compton, Calif. He co-piloted his first flight at 7 years old, and piloted a plane with an instructor when he was 11 or 12, he told Mic. Robin Petgrave, the executive director of Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum, has served as his mentor over the last several years.

In July, Isaiah flew for two weeks around the U.S. over the course of two weeks. At one point, he had to make a crash landing in Wyoming after a strong gust of wind pushed the plane down.

“I wanted to give up and go home,” Isaiah said. “But having conversations with Robin and other people, it calmed my nerves and I continued on with the trip.”


And that’s the lesson he hopes to send to other young people who have big goals that may seem impossible to accomplish.

“Stay focused and hustle hard,” he said. “You can achieve your dreams. You just have to go for what you want and you can’t let anyone distract you from the path that you’re on.”